Jul 24, 2012

The Myth—and the Truth—About BI Success

The pace of change in Business Intelligence, coupled with the high degree of ‘Technical success and business failure’ establishes that the traditional BI planning may well be virtually meaningless. Even as you plan to optimize, turnaround or get into a new BI implementation be ready to support your technocratic assumptions with Scientific Principles, be ready for change based on empirical facts, and then embrace it.

When traditional BI gurus and technology experts talk about building and growing the Business Intelligence and analytical capabilities of any organization they mostly talk about the technology side of planning. Technical planning makes people feel safe, knowing there is a historical reference ability to all their actions and recommendations. Often BI technocrats feel that the only hindrance to a solid BI Strategy is to keep business totally out of the BI process. Gartner, oracle, SAP, Teradata all have established that this technology based planning is not conducive to a successful BI. Infact Gartner went as far as stating that ‘Without business in business intelligence, BI is dead’ – need we say more.

In Business Intelligence most business stakeholders are not doing the right kind of planning, and often not taking the scientific decision – and more than often they don’t even realize it.

Having a technology plan assures that a BI technology will be deployed on time, often in budget and with the resource. It has no assurances or guarantees that it will meet business needs and expectations. A technical plan is no guarantee of meeting business expectations. According to Gartner more than 50% of BI projects fail to meet business expecations after go live.

But knowing some simple scientific principles on how and what to plan for your BI initiative can make the difference between ensuring your BI becomes an asset or remains an expense with little business value.

Start with what’s important to your business.

A BI plan whetted by actual business users, that you and others in your company feel passionately about will serve you better that a technically superior product of plan that you or your business stakeholders do not feel strongly about. Know how to curb your business stakeholders so they don’t deluge the BI directives with unconditional demands that are not part of the deliverables.

BI Planning is more of a business art based on scientific principles than a technical science. By using the scientific principles have consistently scored in the upper 90% project success 20 weeks after go live since 2007. In one project even scored 102% as it exceeded business expectations. The key was a conference call with nine report owners each of who owned a number of reports to be delivered - as simple as that..

The big hurdle is how much business involvement is necessary. The answer lies in Roll-Up architecture design. Roll up your 0065ecutive dashboards from Management analytics, Roll up your management analytics from operational reports. From an architecture point of view roll up your management analytics from operational reports, roll up your management dashboards from your management reports – this ensures a daily data quality check from operational users. Most Bi projects fail and/or succeed on the operational users being able to use reports or not. The foundation of your BI is to excel in Operation decision capabilities with report that exceed business expectations

Work on a BI Framework that is scientific and accommodates change.

No BI plan or design can ever be a rigid final product. No BI methodology can be the mother of all methodologies. One of the highest growth areas for CIO’s has consistently been BI, and with new technologies no company can afford to design on 2007 planning processes. Your modern BI Framework is a series of Business Value GPS locations as guideposts: Keep you focus on ‘meet Business Expectations’ through each decision in the BI project- something BI projects just do not currently do or report on. Review your plans with a BI Business Value Architect- someone with a high business focus and exceptional technology experience. Welcome opportunities to revise and enhance your plans and methodologies with a formal ‘Key decision’ process. Dont follow a technocratic plan just because it has been planned, if your GPS tells you to take an alternative route do so immediately.

Mandate your business participation as a living and actionable process.

Make a conscious decision to appoint select business owners. Find yourself an internal ‘Business Value Owner’- someone who is trained for reporting ‘Meet business expectations in BI’ so that failure is not a big surprise after the project goes live and the implementation team has departed. Eliminate all post go-live surprises from the BI deployment process. Don’t let executive protocols, pride or inertia get into the mix. Give appropriate protocol to your internal Business Value Architect and mandate them to report weekly.

The probability of failures and the pace of technical change make traditional planning virtually meaningless. The wave of new technologies, big data, in-memory computing, columnar databases make traditional thinking retroactive. Social analytics, web mining, global emotion analysis and the management of huge amounts of external data call into question everything we have been doing in business intelligence and everything we believed to be true. What we have accepted as reality today, changes in the blink of an eye. Even as you plan your business intelligence it is critical to remember that with a little business involvement there has been constant success. When a change comes to your door, be ready to review all possible alternatives, let the vendors conduct a POC (their data); follow through with a Pilot (Your data and exact queries); see what else the Pilot delivers. Let business participate and select the final products. Be ready for the change and then when you have identified it – embrace it.

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